The Bedford County Finance Committee presented a rough draft of a balanced budget for the fiscal year 2023-24 that would require no new tax increase for the county.
This budget will be sent to the Board of Commissioners at a special called meeting on June 29 at 7 p.m. at the Bedford County Courthouse.
“There’s no tax increase in the county general fund or the highway fund or the school fund,” said County Finance Director Robert Daniel.
Highlights from the budget
From the County General Fund 101, the projected highlights are:
- A 1% annual step raise for full-time employees and a 5% cost of living adjustment (same as schools). Includes salary for elected officials per state minimum schedule (Judge is 4%; all other state elected/appointed officials are 5%). The total cost is $53,932 plus matching taxes/retirement.
- For non-profits, $79,335 with funding for Habitat for Humanity taken out.
- County buildings budget includes market adjustment of $18,633 plus matching taxes for existing maintenance supervisor position with certifications. Sewer machine for $7,500. Maintenance van for $25,000. Trailer for grounds crew for $2,000. Miscellaneous tools for $5,300. And a $100,000 estimate for jail demolition.
- Sheriff’s budget includes funding for seven new SROs and two new SRO floaters/admin positions for $636,076.93. Revenue includes $1,050,000 matching offset from Governor’s bill for 14 schools, and $111,077 as reimbursement from schools for two floaters. Includes two additional cars at $1000,225. (Does not include uniforms, equipment, training, etc.) Also added $18,360 to Contracted Services for the Motorola Body Cam contract.
- EMA budget includes a $3,500 increase in communication, a $2,000 increase in building repairs, a $1,200 increase in contracted services, a $1,200 increase in utilities, a $2,100 increase in equipment, $20,000 for the annual Tango contract, $14,400 for requested cleaning services.
- The Fire Department Budget includes one new Fire Marshal position for a total cost of $79,604. State-required in-service supplements for three qualifying volunteers at $1,938. New part-time funding of $45,678, $2,000 increase in custodial supplies, $2,000 increase in fuel; $600 increase in uniforms; $936 increase in training; $12,800 increase in TECH team costs; $16,800 for new fore reports software; $7,143 includes new turnout gear for fire marshal.
- Solid Waste budget includes the removal of the capital expenditure items for cardboard compactors. The budget includes a $14,976 increase in landfill contract, a $30,000 increase in fuel, a $27,000 increase in equipment repair parts, $25,000 in other shop supplies, $5,000 for El Bethel awning, $10,000 for center security camera and $5,000 for related wiring.
- Budget includes Mayor’s request for $100,000 for elderly/low-income tax relief.
- Budget includes $75,000 for courthouse exterior lighting and $100,000 for bell tower repairs, projected to come from courthouse renovation restricted fund balance.
For Highway Fund 131, the budget includes a 1% annual step and an annual 5% cost of living adjustment. It also includes the salary for the elected official per state minimum schedule.
The Capital Projects Fund 178 budget includes $30,000 for ground trucks for County Buildings; $48,000 vehicle for the assessor; $18,000 for commissioner iPads; $55,000 for a truck for the fire marshal, $90,000 for radio/pager equipment, and $17,2000 for two Motorola radios; $601,347 for 12 cars with uplift.
There are also several American Rescue Plan (ARP) projects, which are not complete, including $700,000 for broadband, $60,742 remaining on a waterline project, $200,000 for the Industrial Park’s sewer/water grant match, $201,800 for TDEC grant match, and $750,000 TCAT (at the Industrial Park) road project.
Several things were deferred, which include a $30,000 man-lift; six new firefighter positions at $427,802 and a $90,000 volunteer firefighter pay; $121,036.37 in a grant match for the Fire Department; and $425,000 for a pumper truck for station nine.
School budget highlights
Based on this budget projection, the school’s fund would also require no new tax increase.
Highlights from the General Purpose school fund (141), include:
- Annual steps plus a 5% salary increase included in the budget for all employees ($2,236,499 total costs plus matching taxes and retirement). Daniel said the state will pay 2.6% of two million for the certified employees (teachers).
- Thirty new teaching positions were added, a lot of which are for CTE class expansions. One principal position (part-year) for Cartwright Elementary.
- Internet connectivity ($440,000), cabling ($264,440), other charges ($45,770), and computer equipment ($689,990) added for Cartwright Elementary.
- Innovative Schools Model Grant of $4,749,246 (the projected amount remaining on June 30, 2023) included in the budget. This grant will help expand CTE classes in the schools.
- Ten SROs added at $527,873 plus benefits. This number of 10 was projected before the county finance department knew how much they could receive from the governor’s program. Bedford County will receive nine SROs at $630,000 (see above). The money will be reallocated toward cars or floaters, according to Daniel.
- For athletics at the three high schools and Liberty School, $100,000 plus $45,000 for athletic trainers at three schools.
- One 90-passenger school for $135,000.
- Four classrooms were added for Thomas Middle School for $2,037,000. The goal is to get Thomas Magnet up to a K-8.